The internet certainly is a funny thing sometimes. On the positive side, it gives us buckets o’ information at the snap of a finger. On the negative side, it gives us buckets o’ information at the snap of a finger.
And what platform does it all better or worse than Facebook?
The Nosy Nelly side of me loves that I can almost always know what’s happening in the lives of my friends. It loves the chance I have to be a fly on the wall in the lives of both the people that I know well, and people I may have never have talked to or seen again were it not for such social networking. It’s the chance to get a piece of the lives of many without putting in much effort at all.
There is the good information that Facebook gives me. I can know when friends are in new relationships. I can know when they’re getting married. I can know when they’re pregnant. I can know when they’re going on fun trips. I can know when they’re feeling like the best parents on earth. I can know when they’ve met famous people. I can know when they have big, awesome things happen to them in their lives. I can know when they’re really happy.
Yes, Facebook is great because I can always keep a tab on the awesomeness of others.
But, there are times when Facebook gives me too much information. I can know when my friends are fighting with their significant others. I can know when they are cooking dinner. I can know when they are going to the bathroom. I can know when they are addicted to sudoku. I can know when they are happy about a good deal they just got on a septic tank cleaning. I can know that they love kettle corn. I can know that they’re worn out from exercising too hard.
Yes, Facebook is full of awesome information about people’s lives that I don’t really care about, especially when it has to do with people I barely know like Sally Sue or Jim Bob over there.
And then there is also the not so good information that I get from Facebook. I can know when my friends’ relationships fail. I can know when they’re going through a divorce. I can know when they miscarry a baby. I can know when they are seriously injured or extremely ill. I can know when they’re struggling with finances, or when their kids are giving them serious problems. I can know when they are at the end of their ropes. I can know when they are down or depressed.
Yes, Facebook often lets me know many of the broader struggles that my friends go through, even if I have to read between the lines to see them occasionally.
Of course, sometimes the best information to know is the not-so-good information. It gives us the ability to be better friends and to actually know some of the heavier and more prominent needs of the people around us. For some reason, in real life, the people we randomly bump into usually act like everything’s 100% fine, dandy, and perfect. There have been several times when I ran into old friends and was able to have meaningful conversation based on things that I’d read on Facebook, and heaven knows there have been friends that could do the same because of what I’ve posted online.
Now, I know, the only thing anybody ever sees on Facebook is what we ourselves put out there. There is no guarantee that what others share is accurate or meaningful at all. But still, behind every status update there is almost always some sort of need. Physical. Mental. Social. Spiritual. Emotional. A need to laugh. Whatever. Reading Facebook statuses is as fun as people watching to me.
There’s a reason most of the world is married to Facebook. For better. For worse. Till death do we part.
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing